Four teams clinch sole or part possession of titles

The Hallsboro girls assured themselves of at least a piece of the Columbus County Middle School Girls Basketball championship with a 31-21 victory over Tabor City Tuesday. The Tigers finish the season 7-1 in A-League play and 14-2 overall. Tabor City won the boys game 26-23.

Also on Tuesday, Central’s boys clinched the A-League championship with a 38-18 win over Nakina. Leading scorers for the Hornets were Kayshawn McCollum and E.J. McLeod with 10 points each. Central is 7-0 in A-league play. Central’s girls are one step away from earning a co-championship. They defeated Nakina 28-13 to improve to 6-1. Trinity Smith’s 15 points led Central. Marissa Ivey added seven. Alexis Jordan scored seven for Williams. The Hornets final A-League game is Thursday when it hosts Williams.

Acme-Delco’s boys completed B-League action undefeated with a 62-36 win over Evergreen Monday. The Trojans’ final mark was 6-0 and 9-1 overall. Cheyenne Wilkins basket with 28 seconds remaining earned Acme-Delco’s girls a 19-17 win over Evergreen.

Chadbourn’s girls won the B-League title, finishing 6-0 in league play, with a 25-12 win over Cerro Gordo. Chadbourn also won the boys game 46-35.

Alexis Jordan scored 10 points to help the Nakina Girls defeat Williams 20-13. Williams’ Riley Gore scored 21 points in the Aggies 34-24 win. Stephan Johnson scored 13 points for Nakina.

The Central Boys downed Tabor City 38-29. The hornets led 16-15 at halftime. E.J. McLeod scored 15 points for Central. Trashawn Grate had 11 points for Tabor City. Central’s girls won 34-20. Trinity Smith scored 11 points and Jael Jones added eight. Tamera Stephens scored five points for the Eagles.


TRC basketball semi-finals set

Annela Tiffany shoots for WC. Grant Merritt photo.

Tuesday produced the only upset from a seeding standpoint in the 2018 Three Rivers Basketball Tournament. #6 West Columbus downed #3 Whiteville 39-34. The Viking win wasn’t a shock as the teams had split in the regular season. February 2, on the same court, Whiteville staged a comeback from 16 points down to top West Columbus 64-54 in overtime. West Columbus’ Annela Tiffany’s 22 points and 17 rebounds kept her senior season alive for at least one more game. All signs point to West Columbus needing to win the TRC tourney to secure a playoff berth.

Red Springs Girls doubled up West Bladen 60-30. Taylnn Atkinson scored 21 points and Taya Jones 18 to lead the Red Devils.

The West Columbus Boys used a 26-point fourth quarter to pull away from a stubborn South Robeson squad, winning 71-61. Jake Brownlee led the Vikings with 34 points and 11 rebounds. Dejour Smith and Kevon Lewis addd a dozen points apiece. The Vikings connected on 17 of 22 free throws in the game.

Red Springs Boys placed three players in double figures to edge South Columbus 53-48.

The West Columbus and Red Springs will face each other in boys and girls tournament semifinal action Thursday at East Bladen. The two schools met on back-to-back nights last week. The Red Devil Girls and Vikings Boys each won twice in those matches. Red Springs victories were by double digits. West Columbus wins came down to the wire.

Three Rivers tourney results/schedule

February 10 (Saturday)

Conference tourney opening round

Girls, #10 South Robeson 61@ #7 Fairmont 41

Girls, #9 South Columbus 38 @ #8 West Bladen 40

Boys, #10 East Bladen 44 @ #7 South Robeson 60

Boys, #9 West Bladen 68 @ #8 East Columbus 69

February 12 (Monday)

Girls, #10 South Robeson 50 @ #1 East Bladen 74

Girls, #5 St. Pauls 41 @ #4 East Columbus 48

Boys, #8 East Columbus 33 @ #1 Fairmont 79

Boys, #5 Whiteville 48 @ #4 St. Pauls 60

February 13 (Tuesday)

Girls, #8 West Bladen 30 @ #2 Red Springs 60

Girls, #6 West Columbus 39 @ #3 Whiteville 34

Boys, #7 South Robeson 61 @ #2 West Columbus 71

Boys, #6 South Columbus 48 @ #3 Red Springs 53

February 14 (Wednesday)

Girls, #4 East Columbus vs. #1 East Bladen at East Bladen, 6 pm

Boys, #4 St. Pauls vs. #1 Fairmont at East Bladen, 7:30 pm

February 15 (Thursday)

Girls, #6 West Columbus vs. #2 Red Springs at East Bladen, 6 pm

Boys, #3 Red Springs vs. #2 West Columbus at East Bladen, 7:30 pm

February 16 (Friday)

Girls Championship at East Bladen, 6 pm

Boys Championship at East Bladen, 7:30 pm

Gator Girls advance, Wolfpack and Gator Boys ousted

Three Rivers Conference tournament quarterfinal play got underway with four games played at the higher seeded team’s home court Monday.

East Columbus 48 St. Pauls 41

Tia Campbell crashes into a St. Pauls defender.

Free throw shooting was one team’s benefit and another’s ruination in the TRC girls quarterfinal game between St. Pauls and East Columbus. The home-standing Gators charity stripe success secured a 48-41 victory over St. Pauls.

East Columbus held a 24-15 halftime lead. Tia Campbell and Shynicquel Watson combined for 15 points. Meanwhile, Bulldogs’ leading scorer T.J. Eichelberger was held scoreless. St. Pauls’ deficit was in part due to a 2 for 10 performance from the free throw line in the initial half.

Eichelberger got untracked in the second half, scoring 14 points. However, Alanna Deal’s eight second-half points and 9 of 14 free throw shooting by the Gators kept the Bulldogs from cutting into the deficit..

Campbell led East Columbus with 14 points. Watson contributed 11 and Deal added eight.

St. Pauls 60 Whiteville 48

Whiteville led by as many as 16 points in the first half at St. Pauls. The Bulldogs opened the third quarter with a 17-2 run to capture the lead. St. Pauls continued to stretch the lead, ending with a final margin of 60-48.

Phillip Powell led Whiteville with 17 points.

Fairmont 79 East Columbus 33

 Fairmont outscored East Columbus 42-11 in the second half on its way to an easy 79-33 win at Fairmont Monday evening. The Golden Tornadoes placed 12 players in the scoring column, led by Derrick Arnette’s 20 points.

East Bladen 74 South Robeson 50

Ja’Tyra Moore-Peterson, Patience Ward and Erica Moore combined for 55 points in East Bladen’s 19th consecutive victory.

February 13 (Tuesday)

Girls, #8 West Bladen @ #2 Red Springs, 6 pm

Girls, #6 West Columbus @ #3 Whiteville, 6 pm

Boys, #7 South Robeson @ #2 West Columbus, 6 pm

Boys, #6 South Columbus @ #3 Red Springs, 7:30 pm

February 14 (Wednesday)

Girls, #4 East Columbus vs #1 East Bladen at East Bladen, 6 pm

Boys, #4 St. Pauls vs #1 Fairmont at East Bladen, 7:30 pm

February 15 (Thursday)

Tuesday’s Girls winners at East Bladen, 6 pm

Tuesday’s Boys winners at East Bladen, 7:30 pm

February 16 (Friday)

Girls Championship at East Bladen, 6 pm

Boys Championship at East Bladen, 7:30 pm

Middle School round up

Acme-Delco Homecoming King D’Ante Grovner and Queen Brayln Smith.

Acme-Delco’s boys celebrated Homecoming with an offensive explosion in their 79-33 win over Chadbourn. The 79 points equate to 105 points in a high school contest. K. J. Brown scored 27 points and J.J. Faulkner 20. Naqiis Johnson led Chadbourn with 14.

Haley Brown’s 17 points led Chadbourn to a 38-11 win in the girls game. Kiri Rouse added 11. Inaya Graham scored seven for the Trojans.

Central took two wins over Nakina. The Central girls won 34-23 behind 18 points from Trinity Smith. Central won the boys game 41-33. Zion Wilson scored 10 points and Shaheem Shipman eight for the Hornets. Stefan Johnson led Nakina with 11 points. Daquan Cox added nine.

Evergreen put up a battle in both the girls and boys games against Cerro Gordo, but eventually Cerro Gordo prevailed. The Stingers girls won 30-22 behind 10 points from Rheya Collins. Juan Soto’s nine points helped Cerro Gordo’s boys edge the Wildcats 34-32.

Williams’ boys defeated Hallsboro 41-29. Hallsboro won the girls game 39-17.

High School Bowling season wraps up

Coach Willie Gore’s South Columbus Boys Bowling team, backed up its top finish in the regular season with the top score in the team championship event determining Columbus Cup point allocation. The Stallions’ score of 618 easily outdistanced second place East Columbus. West Columbus’ boys finished third. Whiteville’s boys finished a disappointing fourth after finishing the regular season as the second place Columbus County team.


Whiteville’s girls edged South Columbus 494 to 492 to earn first place Cup points. The two teams had battled throughout the regular season with Whiteville finishing second to North Brunswick and just one point ahead of South Columbus. West Columbus finished third in the regular season.


The day’s biggest surprise was the performance of Coach Tara Williamson’s Alley Gators girls. After finishing as the third seed, the Gators defeated fourth-seed West Columbus and second-seed South Columbus. In East’s final shoot out match against top-seed Whiteville, the teams were tied after the regulation number of frames. The Gators prevailed in the roll off to earn a spot in the State Tournament February 23 in Fayetteville.

McDonald’s Columbus County Athletic Spotlight featuring Graylan Daniels & Marquasia Smith

TRC tourney quarterfinals set after Saturday play

East Columbus Boys coach Marcus Skipper called it the “Christian Laettner” play. With nine-tenths of a second remaining in the game, Gator D.J. Williams threw an almost full-court length pass to Donovan Worley. Worley caught the pass and hit the shot, giving East Columbus a 69-68 win over West Bladen in Saturday’s TRC tournament opening round.

It was a game of surges. The Gators led 20-11 after one quarter. West Bladen held a 34-31 lead at halftime. West Bladen opened up a 40-33 third quarter advantage. Trey Brown’s two, three-pointers fueled a 12-0 Gator run and East took a 45-40 lead. East led 53-51 heading into the final eight minutes.

The fourth quarter saw opportunities for the lead to change on every possession. Trey Brown was fouled while scoring with 14 seconds remaining to tie the score at 66-all. His free throw gave the Gators a one-point lead. It appeared two successful Knights’ free throws with nine-tenths of a second left sealed the win for West Bladen before the Williams to Worley heroics.

East Columbus’ eight to four advantage in three-pointers offset West Bladen’s 16-4 edge in made free throws. Graylan Daniels scored 16 points to lead East Columbus. Tyree Burney added 12. T. J. Barr and Trey Brown contributed 11 each. Shyron Adams scored 13 points for West Bladen.

South Robeson defeated East Bladen 60-44 in other opening round boys play.

In girls opening round play, West Bladen edged South Columbus 40-38. The Stallions led after each of the first three quarters, but could not hang on for the win. Carson Powell led South Columbus with 10 points. Caila Turbeville added nine.

South Robeson defeated Fairmont 61-41 to advance.

TRC regular season ends, tourney begins Saturday

Considering the number of scenarios in play for Three Rivers Conference finishes after Friday night’s games, the final standings fell into place rather easily. Unfortunately, teams from South Robeson (girls and boys), West Bladen (girls and boys), Fairmont (girls), East Bladen (boys), South Columbus (girls) and East Columbus (boys) were right back on the court this (Saturday) afternoon in the opening round of the conference tournament. Seeds seven through ten had to play on Saturday to determine Monday and Tuesday’s quarterfinal contests. Those  match ups can be found below.

East Columbus Girls captured the most significant win Friday. The Gators 41-34 win over West Columbus clinched the TRC sole automatic 1A playoff bid. East Columbus also moved into fourth place in the final standings which allows it to host St. Pauls in Monday quarterfinal play. The West Columbus boys led East Columbus 21-7 after one period. Two Jake Brownlee dunks in a 10-second span and Dejour Smith’s 30-foot bank shot at the buzzer had the Viking Senior Night crowd whipped into a frenzy. The Gators chipped away and eventually took the lead in the third quarter. With the score tied at 44-all in the fourth, the Vikings went on a 19-8 run to end the game and secure the 63-52 victory and sole possession of second place.

Whiteville’s boys 49-36 win over South Columbus was also big because it kept the Wolfpack out of seventh place and avoids playing in Saturday’s opening round. The Wolfpack girls’ fourth-quarter comeback against South Columbus gave Whiteville solo third place. South Columbus led 28-24 after three periods, but the Wolfpack outscored the Stallions 19-7 in the fourth.

The rest of the TRC contests were rivalry games in Robeson and Bladen counties. The only result that might be considered an upset was last-place South Robeson’s girls defeating Fairmont 54-41. However, Fairmont’s girls have failed to win a game since losing top scorer and rebounder Kiara Page to injury. The Fairmont boys won by “only” 18 points, 78-60 at South Robeson.

St. Pauls’ girls led Red Springs 20-11 at halftime. The Red Devils halftime talk must have been effective as it outscored the Bulldogs 29-8 in the second half for a 40-28 win. The loss dropped St. Pauls into with place in the final regular season standings. The Red Springs Boys bounced back from two close losses to West Columbus earlier in the week to top St. Pauls 66-59.

West defeated East 88-85 in a battle of Bladen County boys teams. The Knights’ win broke a tie with the Eagles for ninth place. East Bladen’s girls continued to roll with a 68-36 win.

Saturday’s Three Rivers Conference tournament opening round match ups were clear cut after Friday’s action since no ties existed in seventh through tenth place.

Saturday’s schedule

Girls: South Robeson @ Fairmont, 2 pm

Girls: South Columbus @ West Bladen, 2 pm

Boys: West Bladen @ East Columbus, 2 pm

Boys: East Bladen @ South Robeson, 3 pm

One person’s try at possible TRC Tourney seeding

You are thinking, I must really be bored. If not now, maybe halfway through these scenarios. I am not brave enough to guarantee 100% accuracy, but the math gene in my DNA makes something like this impossible to resist. Possibilities follow standings.

First, Wednesday night’s results. West Columbus edged Red Springs in the second day of back to back games 45-43. The sweep of the Red Devils earned the Vikings Boys a second-place regular season finish. West Columbus trailed by one point entering the final quarter before outscoring Red Springs 12-9. Jake Brownlee scored 19 points and gathered in 13 rebounds.  The Vikings dominated the glass, outboarding the Red Devils 36-17.

The Red Springs girls outscored West Columbus 26-7 in the final period to break away to a 55-34 win. West Columbus faces a “must win” situation at home against East Columbus Friday to have a chance to advance to the playoffs.

Fairmont’s boys placed six players in double figures in their 91-57 win over West Bladen. West Bladen edged the Golden Tornado girls 58-54.

Girls (through February 7)    Conf.      Overall

East Bladen                             16-1          21-1

Red Springs                            14-3          16-6

Whiteville                                11-6        12-10

St. Pauls                                  10-7        12-11

East Columbus (1A)               10-7          12-8

West Columbus (1A)              9-8         12-12

Fairmont                                 6-11          8-15

West Bladen                           5-12          7-15

South Columbus                    3-14          3-17

South Robeson (1A)              1-16          1-20


Boys (through February 7)  Conf.      Overall

Fairmont                                  16-1        22-1

West Columbus (1A)              13-4        18-5

Red Springs                           12-5        15-7

St. Pauls                                  11-6        13-10

South Columbus                     8-9         12-10

Whiteville                                7-10        8-14

South Robeson (1A)               7-10        9-12

East Columbus (1A)               5-12        6-17

West Bladen                            3-14        6-17

East Bladen                             3-14        5-17

February 9 (Friday)

South Columbus @ Whiteville

East Columbus @ West Columbus

St. Pauls @ Red Springs

West Bladen @ East Bladen

Fairmont @ South Robeson

I have tried to take every possible outcome into consideration, even if the chances for upsets were slim.

Girls possible ties

#3, #4, #5. Whiteville, St. Pauls, East Columbus

  • Whiteville defeats South Columbus, Whiteville is solo 3rd at 12-6
  • If Whiteville loses and St. Pauls (@ Red Springs) and East Columbus (@ West Columbus) both win all three are 11-7.
  • Head to head to head: WHS 3-1, SPHS 2-2, ECHS 1-3
  • Or if Whiteville loses and St. Pauls or East Columbus wins, Whiteville and either SP or EC are tied.
  • Head to head; Whiteville and St. Pauls split (SP would have win over Red Springs)
  • Head to head: Whiteville swept East Columbus

#4, #5, #6 St. Pauls, East Columbus, West Columbus (if Whiteville defeats South Columbus)

  • East Columbus wins, St. Pauls and West Columbus lose. #4 EC 11-7, #5 SP 10-8, #6 WC 9-9
  • East Columbus would also get 1A automatic berth and seeded as a #1 since overall record is at least .500
  • Pauls and West Columbus win, East Columbus loses. #4 St. Pauls 11-7
  • East Columbus and West Columbus would be tied (10-8) and split head to head. Neither beat Red Springs. Both Split with St.P, WC has a win over Whiteville, East does not, so West gets #5 and East #6.
  • To further complicate matters, seeding for the conference tournament does not determine the automatic 1A bid. If neither East or West Columbus reaches the tournament finals a play off game would be needed. To determine automatic bid. The only way the teams could meet as #5 and #^ seeds would be in finals and that contest would break tie. IF either East or West reaches the tourney finals, that team receives the automatic bid without a play off game.

#7 and #8. Fairmont, West Bladen

  • If both lose, #7 Fairmont (6-12), #8 West Bladen (5-13)
  • If Fairmont (@ South Robeson) wins. Fairmont 7-11 is #7 no matter what West Bladen (@ East Bladen) does
  • If West Bladen upsets East Bladen and Fairmont loses, West Bladen is #7 due to win over    #1 East Bladen (Start at top of conference and work your way down)

Boys possible ties

#2, #3. West Columbus, Red Springs

  • West Columbus win or lose Friday is second due to sweep of Red Springs.

#3, #4. Red Springs, St. Pauls

  • They play each other Friday. Red Springs is #3 with a win
  • If St. Pauls wins, both will be 12-6 and split head to head. St. Pauls would get #3 due to win over #2 West Columbus.

#5, #6, #7 South Columbus, Whiteville, South Robeson

  • South Columbus (@ Whiteville) win gives Stallions #5
  • South Columbus win, South Robeson win (vs Fairmont) gives SC #5,SR #6, WHS #7
  • Whiteville and South Robeson wins make all three (8-10). Head to head to head is WHS 3-1, SR 2-2 and SCHS 1-3. WHS #5, SRHS #6, SCHS #7
  • Whiteville and South Robeson both lose (7-11). Split head to head. South Robeson win over #2 West Columbus would give the Mustangs #6 and Wolfpack #7
  • Whiteville wins, South Robeson loses. WHS and SCHS are tied at 8-10 . Whiteville sweep gives #5 WHS, #6 SCHS, #7 SRHS.

#9, #10 West Bladen, East Bladen

  • They play Friday night. Winner is #9 at 4-14 and loser is #10 at 3-15

February 10 (Saturday)

Conference tourney play-in games

Girls, #10 South Robeson @ #7 Fairmont or West Bladen

Girls, #9 South Columbus @ #8 West Bladen or Fairmont

Boys, #10 East Bladen or West Bladen @ #7 Whiteville, South Robeson or South Columbus

Boys, #9 East Bladen or West Bladen @ #8 East Columbus

Schools involved will set times.

 February 12 (Monday)*

Girls, Lowest seed remaining from Saturday @ #1 East Bladen

Girls, #5 St. Pauls, East Columbus, West Columbus @ #4 St. Pauls, East Columbus, West Columbus

Boys, Lowest seed remaining from Saturday @ #1 Fairmont

Boys, #5 South Columbus or Whiteville @ #4 St. Pauls or Red Springs

February 13 (Tuesday)*

Girls, Highest seed remaining from Saturday winner @ #2 Red Springs

Girls, #6 East Columbus or West Columbus @ #3 Whiteville or St. Pauls

Boys, Highest seed remaining from Saturday winner @ #2 West Columbus

Boys, #6 South Columbus or South Robeson @ #3 Red Springs or St. Pauls

* If hosting one game start time is 6 pm. If hosting two games start times are 5 and 7 pm. Admission is $ 6

Wolfpack and Gator Girls earn big road wins

It is always best when a team holds its playoff destiny in its own hands. The Whiteville and East Columbus Girls squads accomplished that Tuesday evening with road victories. West Columbus will still have a say in the 1A Girls, but its loss to Red Springs puts a damper on the Vikings playoff chances.

Whiteville’s girls downed St. Pauls 42-34 at St. Pauls. The Wolfpack and Bulldogs entered the contest tied for third in the TRC. St. Pauls defeated the Wolfpack earlier this season and a victory would have given St. Pauls the tiebreaker if needed. St. Pauls downed the Wolfpack Boys 67-38. Jatiek Martin scored 10 points for Whiteville. St. Pauls Boys likely have a playoff berth secured. Unless Whiteville wins the conference tourney, the Wolfpack will miss the playoffs for the first time since 2012.

East Columbus pounded Fairmont 65-30. The Golden Tornadoes have struggled since losing center Kiara Page to injury. Fairmont has lost four consecutive games. With the win, East Columbus takes a one-half game lead over West Columbus for what likely will be the only 1A TRC playoff berth.  The East Columbus Boys three-game winning streak came to a screeching halt with a 73-33 loss to Fairmont. In the Gators defense, Fairmont has defeated its 11 opponents in 2018 by an average score of 76-47.

Red Springs’ girls handed West Columbus a damaging, home loss 43-34. Free throw shooting paced the Viking Boys to a 68-61 victory. West Columbus was 25-32 at the charity stripe. Zach McPherson connect on six of six free throws in the final 45 seconds. Jake Brownlee contributed 28 points that included 11of 12 successful free throws. Brownlee also gathered in 16 rebounds. West Columbus travels to Red Springs tonight (Wednesday) for a make up game from January 3. A win by the Viking Girls would make Friday night’s game with East Columbus a “winner-take-all” for the lone automatic playoff berth. A win by the WC Boys would guarantee a second place conference finish.

If the East Columbus and West Columbus girls end the season tied, a playoff game would be needed to determine the automatic playoff berth unless the Vikings  and Gators meet in the conference tournament or one of the teams advances to the conference tournament finals.

West Bladen’s boys probably snuffed out any South Columbus playoff hopes with a 56-52 win at South Columbus. Zack MCoy scored 14 points for the Stallions. To further put a damper on Senior Night, the Knights girls team defeated the Stallions 43-30. It is likely these two will meet Saturday at West Bladen in a conference tournament play-in game.

South Robeson’s boys kept alive their chance of avoiding the Saturday play-in game with a 77-65 win over East Bladen. It is unlikely the Mustangs will upset Fairmont Friday night, but South Robeson can still tie Whiteville for sixth and seventh places if the Wolfpack fall to South Columbus. With Whiteville and South Robeson splitting the two TRC games, the tie-breaking procedure would favor South Robeson due to its win over West Columbus. East Bladen dropped South Robeson 79-51. The Eagles had five players in double figures led by Erica McKoy with 17 points. Patience Ward contributed a double-double with 16 points and a dozen rebounds. Ja’Tyra Moore-Peterson returned to the court after a two-game absence with 10 points.